External Affairs Bulletin Week of February 23, 2015


Week of February 23, 2015

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In this Edition: Table of Contents Arrow

Important Dates & Deadlines

February 25

New FEMA Disaster Grant Obligations Process Webinar

March 2

Youth Preparedness Council Application Deadline

March 6

Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants Application Deadline

March 6

Senior Executive Service Deputy Regional Administrators Application Deadline

April 6

Federal Flood Risk Management Standard Draft Implementing Guidelines Open Comment Period Deadline

Potential Lapse in Funding

While we are hopeful Congress will act this week, DHS and FEMA face the potential for a lapse in appropriations. FEMA would have to furlough the majority of permanent employees after 11:59 p.m. on February 27 if we do not receive funding.

Without an annual appropriation, the small number of impacted FEMA staff who are exempt from furlough may only provide services that directly apply to the protection of human life, safety or the protection of property. A number of our partners may also be impacted as follows:

During a lapse in funding, DHS/FEMA will acknowledge -but cannot process - requests from governors or tribal leaders for presidential declarations of a major disaster or emergency unless the request is determined necessary for the protection of life and property.  Disaster recovery support for states, tribes and communities affected by previous disasters will be significantly impacted – recovery payments for presidential disaster declarations will cease because FEMA staff that process Public Assistance payments will be furloughed. 

A lack of a full-year appropriation complicates FEMA’s ability to award a wide array of preparedness grant funds over the remainder of the fiscal year, including to critical needs, such as Emergency Management Performance Grants, which support the salaries of critical emergency management personnel nationwide. Without the matching federal grants, our state, territorial, local, and tribal partners may face difficult choices about how they will make ends meet or be forced to curtail their activities.

Processing of incoming applications for FY14 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) or Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) awards, impacting thousands of fire departments around the country, will be delayed.  SAFER, AFG and Fire Prevention and Safety program grantees will not be able to draw down funds during a lapse in appropriations. 

A lapse in funding will increase the number of state and local first responders who will miss critical training opportunities to meet the Nation’s emergency needs. During a lapse, FEMA will be unable to provide vital specialized training to hundreds of first responders at our training facilities, which have unique training capabilities unavailable elsewhere.

If there is a lapse in appropriations, the External Affairs Bulletin will cease production until funding is appropriated.


FEMA Implements New Disaster Grant Obligations Process

FEMA will be implementing a new process to award Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program project funds to grantees for disasters declared after March 1, 2015. After this change is initiated in the financial management system, grantees will be able to see project-by-project obligations and disbursements. Grantees will also be required to request and draw down funding by project.

Benefits of this new disaster grant obligations process include enhanced controls for both FEMA and grantees, simplification of data analytics and a streamlined reporting process. This enhancement to the system will assist grantees in tracking funds on a project-by-project basis. It will also allow FEMA to better understand which funds are being drawn down and for which purposes. This will allow a more transparent platform for tracking funds, required quarterly reporting and audit purposes.

This new process will not be applied retroactively to prior disasters. Previously, FEMA obligates Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds into a single large account where grantees can draw down funds from. Disasters declared before March 1, 2015 will not be affected by this new change and will continue to operate as they always have in a lump sum format.

A webinar will be held on February 25 at 1 p.m. ET to provide an overview of the system enhancement as well as training on how to use the new interface and draw down project funding. Participants can join the webinar via Adobe Connect or by dialing 1-800-320-4330 and entering 455513 for the conference PIN.

United South and Eastern Tribes Visits FEMA Headquarters as Part of Impact Week

The United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) invited FEMA to host the Emergency Management session at Impact Week. Impact Week is held each year in February to provide USET's 26 tribes a chance to gather in Washington, D.C. and interact with agency personnel and elected officials to discuss issues that are important to member tribes.

FEMA hosted the Emergency Management session in the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) at FEMA headquarters. FEMA programs, including Tribal Affairs, Response and Recovery, Continuity of Operations, Grants Preparedness Directorate, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, and Emergency Management Institute, presented at the session.


FEMA Announces Third Meeting of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced the third public meeting of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC), scheduled for March 10-11, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET, in Reston, Virginia. The public meeting will be held in the auditorium of the United States Geological Survey headquarters building located at 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia, 20192.


During the public meeting, the TMAC subcommittees will report out on their current work and priorities. Invited subject matter experts will brief members on floodplain management, flood risk to insurance rating, and the FEMA Cooperating Technical Partnership Program to assist in their further development of recommendations on the national flood mapping program and required reports.


Since the TMAC was formed three Subcommittees have been established: (1) Future Conditions, Flood Hazard and Risk Generation and Dissemination, and (3) Operations, Coordination, and Leveraging.


Authorized under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, the TMAC was established to review and make recommendations to FEMA on matters related to the national flood mapping program. The TMAC is also tasked with developing recommendations for FEMA’s flood mapping program to ensure that flood insurance rate maps reflect the best available science and are based on the best available methodologies for considering the impact of climate change and future development on flood risk. They are also required to produce a Review of the Mapping Program Report; a Future Conditions Risk Assessment and Modeling Report; and an Annual Report on Activities to include recommendations. 


To facilitate public participation at this meeting, members of the public are invited to provide written comments on issues for TMAC to consider. Written comments to be considered by the committee at the time of the meeting must be submitted and received by Thursday, March 5, 2015. Written comments can be submitted in the following ways:

  Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

E-mail: Address the email to FEMA-RULES@fema.dhs.gov and cc: fema-tmac@fema.dhs.gov. Include the docket number FEMA-2014-0022 in the subject line of the message. Include name and contact detail in the body of the email.

Mail: Regulatory Affairs Division, Office of Chief Counsel, FEMA, 500 C Street SW, Room 8NE, Washington, DC 20472-3100. 


All submissions received must include the words “Federal Emergency Management Agency” and docket number, FEMA-2014-0022. Comments received will be posted without alteration at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. 


For those planning to attend in person and for additional information on facilities or services for individuals with disabilities or to request special assistance at the meeting, contact FEMA at FEMA-TMAC@fema.dhs.gov. Attendees must contact FEMA and register by Thursday, March 5, 2015, to receive important information on the meeting location.


FEMA is excited to be a part of the TMAC and is looking forward to the expertise and recommendations they will provide. For more information on the TMAC meeting, visit (FRN) or www.fema.gov/TMAC.

Meetings are subject to cancellations due to a potential lapse in Appropriations. Updated information will be advised and posted to www.fema.gov/TMAC should this happen.

Special Invitation: Participate in a Community Preparedness Twitter Chat

Research has shown knowing what to do when a disaster strikes is critical, especially when seconds matter the most. But it takes practice. Practicing what to do, where to go, and how to stay safe during an emergency empowers individuals and the entire community.

America’s PrepareAthon! was launched in 2013 as a national, grassroots campaign for action to increase community preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific group discussions, drills, and exercises. Millions of Americans participate in America’s PrepareAthon! adding to the national momentum of preparedness. To learn more about this exciting initiative and how you can participate, we invite you to join a special Twitter chat on Thursday, February 26, 2-3 p.m. ET. with the hashtag #PrepareAthon to discuss what is America's PrepareAthon! and how to participate.

Office of Disability and Integration Coordination’s Fifth Anniversary

February 2015 marks the fifth anniversary of the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (ODIC) at FEMA. ODIC leads FEMA’s commitment to achieving whole community emergency management inclusive of individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, by providing guidance, tools, methods and strategies to establish equal physical, program and effective communication access. A list of ODIC milestones that outlines the history of disability integration at FEMA is available online at the FEMA library.

FEMA is committed to providing equal access to all agency programs and services. By planning inclusive of the whole community, the nation can be better prepared for emergency situations. Preparedness information for individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs can be found at www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs. To learn more about ODIC and disability inclusive emergency management, please visit www.fema.gov/office-disability-integration-and-coordination.

Effective Coordination of Recovery Resources for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Incidents

This recovery coordination guide outlines best practices and approaches for states, tribes, and territories to help enable a more effective recovery for local communities after an incident of any size or scale. 

Recovery experiences have consistently pointed to examples of increased coordination efforts as central to an effective recovery. Coordination following any incident will allow recovery leaders to identify needs and priorities more effectively, reallocate existing resources, engage traditional and non-traditional partners and identify other assistance. Since most incidents are managed at the state, tribal, territorial or local level, the incorporation of a coordinated effort is critical. 

The guide describes how to address coordination challenges that state, tribal, territorial or local governments commonly face when managing a recovery process. Building on the principles and concepts outlined in the National Disaster Recovery Framework, this guide will better position recovery stakeholders to lead, coordinate and support impacted communities in a more efficient, effective and equitable manner. It is designed to be applied after an incident, either in concert with existing pre-incident recovery plans or to enhance post-incident planning efforts.

REMINDER: FEMA Encourages Young People to Join Youth Preparedness Council

FEMA announced it is seeking applicants for its Youth Preparedness Council. The Council supports FEMA’s commitment to involving youth in preparedness-related activities and provides an opportunity for young people to offer their perspectives, feedback and insights on how to help make America more resilient.

To apply, Youth Preparedness Council applicants must be 13 to 17 years old. They must also be engaged in individual and community preparedness or have experienced a disaster that motivated them to make a positive difference in their community. Individuals who applied for 2014 are encouraged to apply again. Current Council members have an option to extend for an additional year, upon FEMA request. Adults working with youth or on community preparedness are encouraged to share the application with young people who might be interested in applying for the Youth Preparedness Council.

To be eligible for consideration, applicants must submit a completed application form and two letters of recommendation. Completed applications and all supporting materials must be received no later than March 2, 2015 by 11:59 p.m. ET. New Youth Preparedness Council members will be announced in May 2015.

REMINDER: Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants Open for Applications

FEMA announced the opening of the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) application, which will close on March 6, 2015 at 5 p.m. ET. The SAFER grant program comprises of two categories: hiring of firefighters; and the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.

To receive a SAFER grant award, applicants must be registered and have up-to-date information in the online System for Award Management. Registration is required of all Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program applicants and awardees.

REMINDER: FEMA Senior Executive Leadership Announcements and Postings

FEMA is currently recruiting for eight SES Deputy Regional Administrators. This announcement closes March 6, 2015. For information on these and other careers opportunities within FEMA, visit www.fema.gov/careers.

REMINDER: Register for a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard Listening Session

On January 30, the President issued Executive Order 13690, “Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input.” Prior to implementation of the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, additional input from stakeholders is being solicited and considered on how federal agencies will implement the new Standard. To carry out this process, a draft version of Implementing Guidelines is open for comment until April 6, 2015. Questions may be submitted to FEMA-FFRMS@fema.dhs.gov.


FEMA and federal partners are also providing a series of listening sessions on the Standard. These sessions provide the opportunity to learn more about the Standard, ask questions, and provide feedback on how federal agencies implement the Standard. Sessions will be held in Ames, Iowa; Biloxi, Mississippi; Mather, California; and Norfolk, Virginia; with additional sessions to be announced soon. Due to space constraints of the facilities, seating may be limited. To reserve a seat in advance for these in-person listening sessions, please provide a request via email at least three days in advance with the contact information of the participant (including name, mailing address, and e-mail address), and the meeting to be attended to FEMA-FFRMS@fema.dhs.gov and include the subject/attention line: Reservation Request for FFRMS. For anyone attending the meetings who is hearing or visually impaired, or who requires special assistance or accommodations, please also contact FEMA-FFRMS@fema.dhs.gov.